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K.C. Tansley, Author of THE GIRL WHO IGNORED GHOSTS Talks About Believing in Your Story

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Believing in Your Story
by K.C. Tansley


Writers suffer from extreme moments of self-doubt. It’s part of the job description. Right there under being able to talk to imaginary people in our heads. There are so many things in the writing journey that will shake your confidence. That will erode all your belief in your writing talent. There will be times you think you are the worst hack in the world.

I’ve been there. I’ve have agents read the same manuscript and say the pacing was too slow or too fast. That they didn’t connect with my main character or found her completely compelling. Wanted to make it a romance or a thriller. I’ve sat there staring at those emails with no idea what advice to take and what to toss aside. I’ve been paralyzed by feedback because it made me doubt myself as a writer.

Even after I got out of the query wars, my self-esteem rollercoaster continued. Some days I thought I was a skilled writer; other days, I didn’t dare to call myself a writer. I sold a book to Harlequin only to have the entire deal die between editorial revisions and line edits. I parted from my agency. I’ve gone through everything that can shake my confidence and trust me it has.

So what do I do when my confidence is shattered? Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream, Pringles, Strawberry Pop-Tarts. Binge watching The Vampire Diaries. And wallowing.

Somewhere between the food coma and the Damonfest, I start to realize that I don’t have to believe in me. In fact, I have to take me and my pride out of the equation because they are getting in the way of the storytelling.

I have to stop worrying about believing in myself and just believe in the story. I have to see why this concept is amazing. Sure, it might need work in the execution, but I can write better. I have to want to tell the best story I can tell. I have to love my characters and do right by them. It has to be all about the book.

It’s funny what you can endure for something else. If it were about me, I’d probably have given up a long time ago. It hurts so much to keep going in the face of so much rejection and so many career-killing moments.

But it had to be about this story that I created. This world I intricately build. These characters that I breathed life into. They deserve to be out there in the world. I want this novel to find readers. It deserves that.

So whenever my confidence is at an all time low and I feel like giving up, I ask myself one question: Do I believe in this story? And if I do, there is nothing I won’t do to see it makes its way into the world.

The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts took nine years from first draft to published book. It found a home with Harlequin and an agent with ICM Partners, but that didn’t last. When I lost my publisher and agency, it would have been so easy to give up. Trust me, there is nothing worse than being that close to everything you ever wanted and having it all disappear.

While I was wallowing, I realized that I sold this book to Harlequin. They saw something great in it. My editor took it up several levels during our editorial revisions. I had a far better book than what I sold to them. I had a much more solid story that was almost ready for publication. A story that deserved my attention and my loyalty.

So when it found a new home with a small press, I dove into line edits. I cut things that had survived years of drafts. Because I believed in my story and I wanted to tell the best story I could. And that’s what you have to focus on during the writer journey—doing right by your story. You have to make it the most compelling read that you can. You have to believe in your story and that will get you through anything!



K.C. Tansley lives with her warrior lapdog, Emerson, on a hill somewhere in Connecticut. She tends to believe in the unbelievables—spells, ghosts, time travel—and writes about them.

Never one to say no to a road trip, she’s climbed the Great Wall twice, hopped on the Sound of Music tour in Salzburg, and danced the night away in the dunes of Cape Hatteras. She loves the ocean and hates the sun, which makes for interesting beach days. The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts is the first book in her YA time-travel murder mystery series.

As Kourtney Heintz, she also writes award winning cross-genre fiction for adults.

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Website: http://kctansley.com


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About The Book:

In The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts, prep school junior Kat Preston accidentally time travels to 1886 Connecticut, where she must share a body with a rebellious Victorian lady, prevent a gruesome wedding night murder, disprove a deadly family curse, and find a way back to her own time.




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  1. It can be hard to keep the faith, but you’ve shown with your success what can be achieved – oh and if I want a wallow the Vampire Diaries is a great go-to 🙂

  2. Andrea, sometimes you just have to give in to the self doubt for a while. Aw thank you. Yup. It sucks you in and provides a nice little oasis. 😉

  3. It’s so true that writers need to take themselves out of the equation when writing and revising. That can be a tricky thing to do, but then there’s no reason for that self doubt to even enter into it while bogging everything down. My wallowing go-to is Cherry Garcia. 🙂

  4. It’s really hard not to take things personally and internalize it. But I’ve learned that at some point, I have to focus on the book and what it needs. And then suddenly, everything shifts and my emotional spiral stops. I feel like I can do something and I can make the book work. Nice on the Cherry Garcia. 🙂

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